Changing up the routine, Pullard working to improve offspeed pitches

Stepping into a veteran team that was coming off a state championship, sophomore KeMonni Pullard worked his way into the lineup with a variety of skills.

Pullard went 5-0 on the mound and saw playing time in the outfield, helping the Saints win the District 4-3A championship and reach the state semifinals. St. Louis, which went 23-13, won both of Pullard’s playoff starts. He finished the season with a 1.68 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 33 innings. Opponents hit .161 against Pullard, who allowed fewer than one baserunner per inning.

Pullard, playing with Team Louisiana Clark this summer, says he’s working on improving his offspeed pitches in advance of next season. The team won its first two games Wednesday in the Future Stars Series tournament.

“My fastball was my best pitch,” he said. “This summer I’ve been working on improving my changeup. I had a tendency to hang it so I’m trying to locate it better.”

When not on the mound, Pullard played in the outfield. Defense is his favorite part of the game.

“I love running balls down,” he said. “I like doing what I can to back up the pitchers.”

Pullard stole eight bases on the season, including three in the Saints’ Game 1 win over De La Salle in the state quarterfinals.

Pullard said Saints head coach Matt Fontenot has taught him how to be a selfless player.

“He teaches us that we’re a family out there and you do everything you can to help,” Pullard said. “So I try to help in whatever way I can, back up the family whatever way I can.”

Pullard said he isn’t satisfied with the early success he’s had at St. Louis.

“I’m just going to keep working my last two years and hopefully keep progressing,” he said.

Fontenot said Pullard has the intangibles to succeed.

“He’s obviously talented, but he has a great work ethic and that helped him succeed as a young player,” Fontenot said. “The sky is the limit for him.

“He has a fun personality, loves the game and is a great guy to be around. I think he is on the verge of a breakthrough. I think he has the ability to improve enough at the plate to be a two-way player at the next level.”

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